Things are progressing at somewhat less than a snail’s pace.
Uncle Junkyard says he’ll be able to put brakes in my car “hopefully this weekend.” He’ll take a look at what’s wrong with the wiring then. If it’s the wiring harness, he’ll start digging out whatever needs to be dug out to replace it while I try to figure out how to buy a thousand dollar car part. If, as I hope, it’s something simpler, he might be able to fix it on the spot. I am thankful even as I bite back tears. I know full well I’d have no chance of a working car without him.
I need to go for a drive.
My mental health requires drives. I had been without a car for a decade, and had been used to it, and then I got accustomed to a car and all the things a car gets you: trips into Pittsburgh to look at art. Trips to the grocery store without worrying about missing the bus home. Trips to Columbus to see dear friends when I need a weekend out of Dodge. Trips to Sheetz to sit in the car and eat a bunless made-to-order burger and pretend it’s a lavish treat at a real restaurant. Now I don’t have those, I haven’t all winter, and it’s driving me out of my mind.
I wish, once again, that I were rich.
I’ve been so much worse off it’s spoiled to complain right now, but I wish I were rich.
I would like to be the kind of rich person who doesn’t think they’re rich. Not the obscenely wealthy kind, but a person who believes they are middle class when they’re really better off than that. Not a penthouse in the city and a summer estate out of town, but owning my own house on a double lot in a fairly quiet neighborhood with a small mortgage, and having the cash on hand to call a plumber if it leaks. No lavish vacations in Italian wine country, but the occasional weekend in a cabin in the mountains. No fur coats and Gucci bags, but a tasteful capsule wardrobe with organic pima cotton tops that last several years instead of just one. Not caviar and foie gras, which are both disgusting anyway, but being able to go to the grocery store when I feel like it and not count every penny.
Deciding to go out to dinner at the spur of the moment and not regretting it when the water bill came the next day.
Getting my hair done in a salon instead of risking the discount place every several months and hacking it with my own scissors between trips.
Being able to stop the car whenever I see a homeless person, and not only give them a few dollars and a blessing bag but a brand new pair of boots and a gift card to the Speedway.
Being able to help a domestic violence victim by cashing in my points for a hotel, filling her car with gas and giving her a stack of gift cards to buy food on her cross country drive to stay with her family and be safe.
Being able to walk up to whatever landlord is refusing to rent to a poorer friend because her income is too low, and saying “I’m going to write you a check for half of the entire lease right up front, and you’re going to sit down and write her a lease for the other half. She’ll pay you $600 a month for this house, which it was what it was worth ten years ago before the real estate market went to hell anyway, and you’ll still get the same amount of money. Also, you’ll need to bring this furnace up to code before she moves in or my attorney will become her attorney and you won’t like it.”
Walking into a town council meeting in my tasteful organic capsule wardrobe, looking like a million bucks, and using my privilege to bully people into not passing zoning laws that will hurt the poor.
Not waiting for a generous friend of a friend to see if he can fix my car slowly over several weeks. Just taking it to a mechanic. Having the mechanic give me an estimate. Saying “oh no, I’ll have to rent a car for the weekend. We’ll have to take this out of the savings!” and then stoically writing a check from my Fancy Pool of Money instead of my Everyday Pool of Money.
What if the worst thing that could possibly happen to me was that I had to spend some of my savings?
Who wouldn’t want that?
This is the part where I’m supposed to say that we’re all better off not speaking about such things, but being exactly as God wills us to be. But the thing is, I really do think that God would rather everybody be comfortable. Not comfortable in the sense of getting exactly what you like at the expense of somebody else. Not comfortable in the sense of making a spoiled wealthy brat of yourself. Maybe I wouldn’t get my capsule wardrobe. But He would like us to be busy with helping one another, being generous and loving with one another, so that there is no great inequality between one person and another and everyone gets what they need without fear. I think if we had the society God wished we had, nobody would be crushed if their car needed an expensive part. Nobody would go hungry. Nobody would fear not having the income to qualify for the privilege of paying rent. If we were all concerned with one another, nobody would ever have to be concerned.
If we were all busy enriching one another, we’d all be rich, and then nobody would be rich, because being rich is what happens when there is inequality.
Life wouldn’t hurt nearly so much.
I wonder what such a world would really look like.
I’d like to start making it real.
Maybe we can all start today.
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.